For years, people have known Marissa Shaw could be something special as a field hockey player. Shaw will be playing that sport at the University of Maine this fall, but this winter was more evidence that she’s something special as a basketball player as well.
“Everyone talked about her as a field hockey player coming up through — even from middle school,” Nokomis girls basketball coach Kori Dionne said. “I’ve coached her in basketball since she was in seventh grade. I talked to her when I think there was a push to get her to concentrate more on field hockey. I said, ‘Do what makes you happy, but you’re a pretty darn good basketball player.’ “
Shaw was at her best in leading Nokomis to an undefeated regular season this winter. Although her stats were held down because Nokomis had a lot of blowouts, Shaw still averaged 12.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 2.1 assists per game.
For her outstanding season, Shaw has been named the Morning Sentinel Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Messalonskee center Megan Pelletier was also considered.
While Shaw eventually focused her offseasons on field hockey, it was still an easy choice for her to play basketball this season.
“I’ve played basketball since I was little, and I didn’t want to give it up,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed playing basketball. I think it would have been too upsetting for me to just stop playing basketball.”
Although Shaw is skinny and stands 5-foot-9, she was one of the best pure rebounders in the state. The biggest reason Nokomis got by top-seeded Presque Isle two years in a row was the rebounding difference between the two teams, and Shaw was the key to that.
“She’s a strong girl, and I don’t think you’d necessarily know it to look at her, either,” Dionne said. “I think that goes back to field hockey, with strength in the lower part of her body. She gets up off the floor.
“Her legs are extremely muscular. She’s strong, and she’s determined, and she’s aggressive. I can guarantee you that if I had sat down and looked at the stats, probably 90 percent of the time she got her own rebound and put it back.”
Nokomis met Presque Isle again this year, with both teams undefeated entering the Eastern B final. The game turned when Shaw was called for her second foul early in the second quarter, and had to sit out the rest of the half.
“I think it was a clean block, but whatever,” Shaw said. “It is how it is. I can’t make anything change.”
Unfortunately for the Warriors, they were about to find out exactly how much Shaw meant to the team. With her on the bench, Nokomis was outscored 17-5, and outrebounded, 11-6. The Warriors were outscored by 12 in that stretch, and lost the game by 12.
“It was painfully evident what she means being on the floor to this basketball team when she got that second foul,” Dionne said. “We couldn’t put the ball in the hole without her on the floor. We relied her on a ton this season, and I don’t think even I realized just how much until that first half of that Presque Isle game.”
That game was the end of a superb three-year run for the Warriors. After going 7-12 in Class A when Shaw was a freshman, Nokomis was 56-9 and won two regional titles over the last three seasons.
“It’s depressing that it’s over,” Shaw said. “We’ve actually become very competitive. I’m just happy with everything. It was fun, and we ended up making it to the tournaments the last three years. How many teams can say that?”
So while Shaw’s destiny was ultimately field hockey, it was clear that she wanted to also be an outstanding basketball player. That she was is something Dionne attributes to her aggressiveness and determination.
“I don’t think I’ve coached a player that has much of that as she has,” Dionne said. “If I have in my career I’ve probably coached maybe a handful, and I’d rank her No. 1.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243